Help SMEs tap financial resources, manage manpower issues

It is great that the issue of helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop, succeed and expand has been widely discussed in the Budget debate (Govt will help firms seize opportunities: Iswaran, SMEs are 'a central focus in transforming our economy', and Manage costs but look to higher revenues for SMEs to survive; all published on March 1).

Everyone must make a conscious effort to ensure that SMEs get all the financial and manpower help they need, and that the abuse of financial resources is prevented.

On the financial front, employers must be educated on the government incentives that are in place.

If they face any hindrance in getting grants, it is important that they work with government agencies to overcome it or to source for alternative resources.

In the age of digitisation and with the growth of start-ups, many firms are offering non-standard products and services or are undergoing a shift from brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce.

A whole new set of expertise is needed, and it is important that these firms get the required support.

However, the risk of abuse of governmental resources must not be discounted.

To prevent this, regular audits should continue and enforcement action should be taken against errant companies which submit fraudulent claims.

From the human resource perspective, it is important that the fit between the job and the applicant's skills is maximised.

The Government could assess if a job advertised really requires certain skills.

For example, many jobs listed in the National Jobs Bank require relevant experience, and it is difficult for applicants to get a foot in the door.

But I have friends who, despite not having related experience, managed to thrive in their jobs through determination and hard work.

It is time for employers to be receptive of applicants without prior experience.

I have also seen many instances where employers want candidates with a wide range of skills, but are not willing to pay well.

The salary should match the requirements of the job.

Efforts should be channelled towards counselling employers on these key aspects.

With employers leveraging the financial resources and talent that our nation can offer, and with the checks to prevent the abuse of resources, SMEs will be able to thrive and individuals can achieve their fullest potential.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'Help SMEs tap financial resources, manage manpower issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe